How To Tell If A Washer's Suspension Rods Are Bad

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf
The suspension rods on a washing machine are a key part of its stability and operation, so it requires action when they go bad. You can tell that the suspension rods on your washing machine are bad if the washer shakes during operation. Whether it be identifying the problem or fixing and replacing parts, let’s take a look at what you should do when your washer’s suspension rods go bad.

Your washing machine is a complex piece of machinery. There are many different internal components that make it easy to do the wash at a moment’s notice. When one of those components goes bad, it requires repair or replacement before the washer can be used again.

Your washer suspension rods are bad if the washing machine shakes during a cycle. Remove and replace the ineffective suspension rods to reduce the shaking and vibration. You can also remove the panel to access the suspension rods and inspect them for visible damage.

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Identifying a Broken Suspension Rod

Step 1: Look for Shaking or Vibrating

Keep in mind that a little bit of vibration is totally normal. When you start to notice substantial shaking or vibrating out of your washing machine, then it is time to be concerned that there is a damaged or broken component.

Though the most likely solution is the suspension rod, there could be other culprits. That is why troubleshooting the issue is important.

Step 2: Check the Suspension Rods

After noticing shaking or vibrating, it is time to check the suspension rods. They are located inside of the cabinet, typically underneath the drum. Inspect them visually at first, looking for obvious signs of damage and excessive wear and tear.

Should you notice that a suspension rod is broken, replacing it is the only answer. Failing to do so and simply continuing to run the washer can result in damage to the other components and even total failure.

Step 3: Move on to Other Troubleshooting Areas

Should you find the suspension rods to be in fine condition, you’ll need to check out a few of the other common areas (which will be covered later on). Do not ignore the issue; it is a pain now but will be a far larger pain later.

How Fix or Replace the Suspension Rod

The suspension rod is very similar to the suspension on your car. Most top-loading laundry washers will use suspension rods in sets of four. They are meant to cushion the internal drum during the rapid spinning motion of the spin cycle.

Over time, the rods can stretch and break due to the constant tension that they face during the average washing cycle. Visually speaking, you should notice that the drum of the washer looks off-balance, indicating a broken rod.

Step 1: Move the Washer

Start by pulling the washer away from the wall. You’ll need a little bit of room to work since the suspension rod is located inside the cabinet.

If your particular washer is heavy, have a friend help you move it. Moving heavy objects like a washer can easily lead to injury if you strain while moving it. Exercise caution and get help if at all possible.

Step 2: Cut the Power

Make sure that you unplug the washing machine from the electrical outlet. Working with live power is very dangerous and, since there is water trapped in the washing machine, it could lead to potential issues with electrocution.

Never attempt to work on the interior area of a washing machine while the plug is still connected to the wall. At best, electrocution can lead to serious injury. At worst, it can lead to death. Use extreme caution where the electricity is concerned.

Step 3: Detach the Front Panel

Next, take out the front panel screws; a Philipps head screwdriver should do the trick. You will likely find them near the bottom front of the washing machine panel. Make sure that you prop the front part of the panel up (you can use something like wood blocks) under the feet if you can’t reach the screws.

Should you choose to prop the washing machine up, be certain to secure it before continuing forward. An unbalanced washing machine could potentially fall on you as you work and is very dangerous.

Step 4: Remove the Panel

With the screws removed, gently pull the panel toward you, lifting up as you go. This should detach the top of the panel from the rest of the main washer assembly. Do not pull hard; you do not want to break off any portion of the assembly. Set the panel off to the side for now.

Step 5: Detach and Remove the Top Panel

Now that the front panel has been removed, it is time to move to the top panel. Use your screwdriver to detach the screws on the top panel. You should find them either just under the lid of the washer or at the corners of the cabinet.

If you aren’t certain where the screws are, check your user manual for clearer information. When you’ve removed the screws, gently pull the top panel off and move it off to the side. You should be able to see the suspension rods clearly now that both the front and top panels have been removed.

Step 6: Release the Tension and Lift-Out the Rod

Now that you can see where the failed tension rod is, lift up on the internal tub near the aforementioned rod. Do so carefully with one hand; the goal here is to relieve the tension from the broken rod.

With the tension gone, pull the bottom assembly of the rod from the U-shaped connection point using your free hand. This will let the rod hang freely. Lift it upwards, detaching the securing cup sitting under the top assembly of the rod. Gently pull the rod through the opening to remove it from the washer’s assembly entirely.

Step 7: Inserting the New Rod

With the old rod removed, slide the new one into the top opening. Make sure that you hold the rod securely so that the top assembly sits just above the opening. Put the securing cup back into the top opening so that it surrounds the length of the rod while you hold it. Make sure the cup is snugly seated in the opening.

With the rod and securing cup in place, you can let go of the rod. It should hang from the securing cup if you’ve done everything properly.

Step 8: Connect the New Rod and Return the Panels

Hold the internal tub of the washer up from the bottom using your free hand. While holding it steady, slide the bottom assembly of the rod into the aforementioned u-shaped connection point, slowly releasing the tub after.

The new rod should work in conjunction with the other three rods to hold the tub in place. When you are confident that the new rod is secure, you can put the panels back on the front and top. Make sure to secure them with the aforementioned screws.

Plug the washer back in and then turn the machine on. Watch the cycle to ensure that the drum is spinning normally; if it isn’t, go back and troubleshoot where you may have gone awry.

What are Some Other Reasons for Vibrating and Shaking?

Let’s say that you’ve performed necessary troubleshooting on the tension rods and determined that they are in fine condition. You are still left with a shaking and vibrating problem, but where do you look next? Here are some of the most common issues for vibrating and shaking in a washing machine.

Shock Absorber

Should the tension rods be fine, the next most likely culprit is the shock absorber. The purpose of the shock absorbers is to dampen the vibrations caused by the washer tub. When one or more of them become worn down, the shaking and vibrating in the washer will become apparent.

Moving the washer can actually lead the shock absorbers to separate. Check to make sure that they are positioned correctly first, looking for wear and tear as well. Should you notice that one or more are broken, replace all of them as a preventative measure.

Counterbalance Spring

Another place to check is the counterbalance springs. Whereas the shock absorber dampens the vibrations of the washer tub, the counterbalance spring helps to absorb the movement of the washer tub.

When the springs break, the tub can become unbalanced and vibrate or shake during use. Check out the counterbalance springs to see if any of them are broken. While you’re at it, check the frame where the springs are attached. You may notice rusting; if that is the case, replace the frame as well.

Suspension Spring

The suspension spring work in tandem with the counterbalance spring to help absorb the movement from the washer tub. When they become worn down or break, the tub can become unbalanced, leading to the aforementioned vibrating and shaking during use.

It is a good idea to inspect the shock absorber, counterbalance spring, and suspension spring all at once. Should any of them be broken, replace them immediately. Run the washing machine again to test the vibration levels after the repair.

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Simple Tips to Stop Vibration

Sometimes, the simplest explanation is the right one. Here are a few common tips that can help you when the washing machine is vibrating or shaking quite a bit:

  • Make sure the loads are balanced.
  • Check to ensure both the floor and machine are balanced.
  • Check the stacking kit.
  • Buy washing machine vibration pads.
  • Call in the professionals.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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